Though only fragments of it remain, Hastings Castle is still tremendously atmospheric. Its splendid clifftop setting means it can be seen from most parts of town. Visitors are drawn here for its interesting and tumultuous history and for the incredible views it offers of the cliffs and coastline. Watch a video explaining the significance of the Norman fortress and peruse the evocative ruins.
Get familiar with the castle’s history by watching the informative 20-minute video detailing the story of the Norman conquest of England. Hastings Castle was built in the 1060s under orders from William the Conqueror, who had defeated British King Harold II just a few years earlier during the pivotal Battle of Hastings. Over the centuries, the castle has suffered extensive damage from erosion and it was again left in ruins after King Henry VIII ordered that all Catholic sites should be destroyed. World War II delivered more blows as the castle suffered bomb damage.
Though only remnants of the fortress remain, the site is nevertheless enthralling. Stroll around the grounds and try to imagine how it would have looked in its heyday, when Norman knights and archers manned the lookouts. Try to spot the steps down to the old dungeons and identify the remains of the chapel, which was destroyed in the mid-16th century under orders from Henry VIII.
Spend a few moments admiring the coastal vistas. Because of its elevated position, the castle offers fantastic views of the town below, as well as the rugged coastline.
The castle can be accessed on foot, but the ascent up the hill is steep. Instead of walking, consider taking the West Hill Lift, an Edwardian funicular railway that departs from town. Purchase Hastings Castle tickets individually or as part of a package deal with Smugglers Adventure and the Blue Reef Aquarium.
Hastings Castle is open from late March until late October. It is also open during some school holidays and for pre-booked groups. Check ahead if you are visiting outside the main season.